Listening to authors read their published work to a captivated, awestruck audience is both inspiring and nerve wrecking as an aspiring writer. Or in my case…a writer.
I was at an event with my friend the other day – it was the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club which is basically a huge book club where published fantasy authors read excerpts of their upcoming novel aloud.
My friend and I -both studying for our MA in Creative Writing, both passionate writers, sat amongst other people with envy pulsing through our veins.
Seeing the two authors actually hold their published novel in their hands, while reading words they’ve written, I realized, is one of those dreams that us writers would happily sell our souls just to experience. All kinds of questions chased around my mind. The most important one being – when is it my turn? I’m 22, almost 23, with five years of creative writing experience tucked neatly under my belt – and already I’m writhing with impatience. Which is stupid if we’re being entirely honest. I have no reason to be. My turn will come. Those were the words I kept repeating in my mind as I watched random people fawn over authors I’ve never met.
I listened to their readings with rapt attention, marvelling at their creation and trying not to edit certain phrases in my head – as only a creative writing student can do. I also listened to their shameless self-promotion with a hidden smirk.
Then came the Q&A session.
I sat and listened quietly to people quizzing these authors about their ‘creative process’ and ‘character choices.’ Judging by some of the questions and comments, I gathered that there were a few writers in the room – besides myself and my friend – that were itching to trade places with these authors.
And that’s another thing I started thinking about – when do you go from being a writer – to an author? Is it once you’ve published a novel?
Well…in that case I’m a writer. For now anyway…
When I say I’m a writer, I genuinely say it with such pride. It’s my profession for God’s sake, why shouldn’t I? Writing is an art. Despite what most people think, writing is an art and a craft that you need to nurture.
These authors all agreed that writers need to finish their work whilst holding down a full time job. They need to move heaven and earth just to find the time to bang out 1,000 words.
It takes years.
And that was when my friend and I exchanged the guilty looks. Here we are, students, with all the time on our hands to actually write – and we spend it lounging around, watching Netflix, drinking cider or cooking noodles. Writing was once our hobby and an escape from the world. Now we associate it with studying and…it kind of sucks the fun out of it.
But then they also said that once you become published, it’s not the end…just the beginning of a new journey. I get it. Once you get published, that’s one hurdle you’ve had to leap over…but the next is trying to get people to buy your book.
You have to just hope that people love your story as much as you do.
Perhaps that’s why I feel so insecure about my writing. Maybe I think no one will like my stories.
I think as a writer it’s unnatural to feel entirely confident about your work. Unless you’re suffering from narcissism which is possible. Sometimes there’d be days when I read a paragraph and go “Damn I’m good!” And then there would be days where I’d read something and go “I’m useless…this is so cliche…I’m losing my touch!”
What I found, is that you have to believe in yourself as a writer. Cue inspirational violins. No, I’m being serious. I find that saying out loud, “I’m a good writer. I can do this.” I’m suddenly fuelled with a newfound courage.
I guess that’s why I sneak some of my writing onto here…I guess you could call it…testing the waters.